Great science fiction can widen our horizons, and challenge our assumptions about space, time, and humanity. Movies in particular allow the wonder and imagination of sci-fi storytelling to take flight.
By combining dynamic, breathtaking visuals with imaginative storylines, science fiction films can be truly transportive—even if you're just streaming at home from the comfort of your couch.
Check out our recommendations below for the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now. From the horrific to the heartwarming, these sci-fi flicks dare to reimagine life as we know it, and feature everything from old-school classics to recent blockbusters.
Grab some popcorn and get ready for adventure!
The first English-language film from The Host director Bong Joon-ho, Snowpiercer is a brilliant, thrilling vision of a steampunk apocalypse. The world has descended into a new Ice Age after human efforts to reverse climate change go awry.
The last survivors of the human species are passengers on Snowpiercer, a massive train with a perpetual motion machine engine. Snowpiercer passengers are divided into a strict class system, and the passengers in the train's tail are the lowest of the low and forced to subsist on food scraps. Curtis (Chris Evans) orchestrates a revolt among the tail to overthrow the decadent class in the engine.
But the inhumane Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton) is determined to keep the class system intact, no matter how much blood must be spilled to maintain the Snowpiercer status quo.
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This Academy Award-winning Spike Jonze film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer in near-future Los Angeles. Theodore is in the midst of a complicated divorce.
Desperate to relieve his isolation, he upgrades his operating system so he can access a sophisticated virtual assistant.
Theodore names the AI Samantha (voice by Scarlett Johansson) and becomes fascinated by the way she learns from and builds on their previous conversations. Soon, Theodore and Samantha develop intense intimacy, and he feels himself falling for her even as his relationships with other humans grow more complicated.
This surprisingly thoughtful time travel romance stars Domhnall Gleeson as Tim Lake, a young man who learns on his 21st birthday that he has inherited the ability to travel through time at will.
After receiving this shocking news from his father, Tim resolves to use his skill for good, and to create a life he can be proud of. The remarkable talent also helps him meet the love of his life, Mary (Rachel McAdams).
But as Tim matures and has a family of his own, he realizes that his time traveling talents come with painful responsibilities and decisions.
See You Yesterday
This Spirit Award-winning time travel movie was directed by Bristol and Fredrica Bailey and produced by Spike Lee.
C.J. (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Danté Crichlow) are two ambitious New York teens obsessed with time travel. The science-loving best friends think there's a chance they may have made the discovery of the century — one that's guaranteed to get them scholarships to the colleges of their dreams.
But the stakes are suddenly raised when C.J.'s beloved older brother Calvin (Brian Bradley) is shot by a police officer while unarmed. After Calvin's death, nothing will ever be the same for C.J. — unless she and Sebastian can put their research into practice to prevent a tragedy from the past.
You'll find yourself rooting for C.J. and Sebastian to avoid the consequences of bending time in this unique and emotional time travel movie.
The Bad Batch
This divisive dystopian movie comes from Ana Lily Amirpour, director behind acclaimed Iranian vampire movie A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Like Amirpour's debut feature, The Bad Batch has an incredibly distinct aesthetic.
The story follows Arlen (Suki Waterhouse). Deemed an undesirable by the ruling dystopian government, Arlen is exiled to the desert and narrowly escapes cannibals with the help of a hermit (Jim Carrey).
Arlen finds a measure of safety in Comfort, a settlement of fellow undesirables who have managed to create a permanent rave in the desert. Comfort is led by a magnetic man who calls himself The Dream (Keanu Reeves). When Arlen believes she sees a child held prisoner by a cannibal in the wastelands of the desert, she rescues the girl and returns with her to Comfort.
But Miami Man (Jason Momoa) wants his daughter back, and heads to Comfort to find her.
The Bad Batch draws inevitable comparisons to Mad Max: Fury Road in that they're both desert-set dystopias populated by cannibals and exploitative men. Although The Bad Batch isn't quite as engaging as the latter movie, it's an undeniably fascinating portrait of dystopia.
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The debut film from Annihilation director Alex Garland, Ex Machina explores issues of autonomy and gender as they relate to AI. Accomplished programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) works for a Google-like search engine conglomerate where he wins a one-week visit to the home of reclusive tech genius Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac).
During the visit, Nathan introduces Caleb to Ava (Alicia Vikander), a female humanoid robot Nathan designed. Ava has already passed the Turing test, but Nathan wants Caleb's insight into whether his advanced AI is truly capable of emotion.
Although initially excited by the technological implications of Ava, as Caleb spends time with her and develops feelings he begins to question Nathan's ethics and his own role in Ava's treatment.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
A relatively lighthearted superhero movie — at least when compared to its MCU predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War — Ant-Man and the Wasp picks up with Paul Rudd as teeny-tiny criminal-turned-crime-fighter Scott Lang, and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne.
Hope and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) believes there's a chance Hope's mother Jane Van Dyne may still be alive in the liminal quantum realm, a realm Scott was briefly trapped in.
During his time imprisoned on the sub-atomic level, Scott became linked to Janet. Father, daughter, and ant attempt to make meaningful contact with Janet again — but their experiments are complicated by a space-jumping villain who moves through walls as easily as a ghost.
The Wandering Earth
This 2019 Chinese film is an adaptation of the novella of the same name by Cixin Liu, author of the acclaimed Remembrance of Earth's Past series. Netflix now has global streaming rights to The Wandering Earth, which broke major box office records when it premiered in China earlier this year.
The film follows a mission to move Earth out of our solar system and into the Alpha Centauri system, before the Sun completes its transformation into a Red Star and destroys the last remnants of human civilization. After 17 years, the operation is approaching successful completion when a disaster near Jupiter imperils the astronauts — and everyone left alive on Earth.
You can see a trailer for the celebrated sci-fi epic below.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Disney's second Star Wars anthology film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, had a famously troubled production, and ultimately became the first Star Wars Disney movie to lose money.
Regardless, Solo is still worth streaming if only for Donald Glover's ridiculously charming personification of young Lando Calrissian. The story follows young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) as he escapes his miserable life on Corellia, flunks out of Imperial Flight Academy, and ultimately talks his way into a gang of thieves intent on stealing a shipment from brutal crime boss Dryden Vos.
Along the way, Han meets Lando, reunites with his long-lost lover Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), and plays a historic game of sabacc.
Based on Josh Malerman's book of the same name, this tense post-apocalyptic movie stars Sandra Bullock as Marjorie, a woman leading two children—referred to as 'boy' and 'girl'—on a harrowing journey to safety.
Five years prior, Marjorie was pregnant with her first child when the world around her descended into total chaos. Mass suicides caused by mysterious creatures that are deadly to look at led to the collapse of society.
During the initial chaos, Marjorie found refuge in a house with covered windows. But her temporary home can't shelter her forever.
Spurred on by rumors of a safe community further along the river, Marjorie and the two children begin a dangerous journey in which they must travel blind through an unfamiliar world.
Space werewolves! Intergalactic bees! The Wachowskis' space opera Jupiter Ascending has everything.
Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, a cleaning woman in Chicago. After Jupiter agrees to sell her eggs so that she can afford to buy a telescope, she is attacked by 'Keepers' — mysterious visitors from out of space intent on stopping her plan.
Jupiter is rescued by Caine (Channing Tatum), a half-albino, half-wolf soldier. Caine brings Jupiter to space, where she learns she is long-lost Jupiter royalty (she also has the ability to control bees, but that's a different story).
A funny, campy, and soapy space adventure story, Jupiter Ascending doesn't take itself too seriously. The story blends humor, romance, action, and werewolves into an unforgettable sci-fi ride.
A Netflix original, this Australian zombie movie is a smart addition to the genre that will thrill fans of The Girl With All the Gifts or Train to Busan. Andy (Martin Freeman) and his wife are attempting to outrun a zombie pandemic via boat.
When Andy's worst nightmare comes to pass, he must make a grueling, days-long trek across the outback in order to bring his infant daughter to safety. Andy's odyssey coincides with the journey of Thoomi (Simond Landers), an aboriginal tribe member whose father has recently been infected.
To say much more about the plot risks spoiling some of Cargo's appeal. Suffice to say, if you're a fan of zombie movies that delve into the emotional weight of an outbreak, you'll love this tense, unique addition to the genre.
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Heralded by critics as Netflix’s first great film and from the mind of Snowpiercer’s Bong Joon-ho, this emotionally wrenching drama doubles as an environmental morality tale. Okja is a thoughtful, visually awing, and perpetually relevant criticism of our food systems that’s delivered through a relationship between genetically modified pig Okja and her young owner.
Forewarning: watching will probably make you experience every emotion ever.
A Netflix original from Moon director Duncan Jones, Mute is a cyberpunk mystery set in future Berlin. Alexander Skarsgard stars as Leo, a bartender whose throat was damaged in a childhood accident. Leo is intent on finding Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh), his missing partner, and he'll comb through as much of the seedy underbelly of the high-tech city as he needs to do so.
Jones has described Mute as a "spiritual successor" to Moon, but unfortunately the new film isn't as smart or emotionally affecting as its predecessor. Still, it's worth a watch if only for the undeniably impressive, Blade Runner-reminiscent visuals.
I Am Mother
After an apocalyptic event nearly wipes humanity out, human embryos are raised in a controlled facility designed for future repopulation. Mother is a humanoid android (voiced by Rose Byrne), who monitors the embryos and selects one to raise as Daughter (Clara Rugaard) within the facility. Mother and Daughter share a peaceful existence — but then a human Woman (Hillary Swank) arrives with disturbing news about Mother.
An all-female sci-fi thriller that explores themes like the singularity and identity, I Am Mother is a thoughtful addition to the Netflix sci-fi pantheon.
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A strange, surreal fable of a film, The Lobster is unforgettable. In this dark comedy, finding a romantic partner comes with an exact time limit. Single individuals have 45 days to couple up, or else they're transformed into an animal — but they get to choose what kind of animal they're doomed to be.
David (Colin Farrell) is newly single, and eager to find a better half before his metamorphosis into a lobster. David and a woman (Rachel Weisz) soon recognize their mutual need, and attempt to form a couple.
Promotional poster from "I Am Mother" via Netflix.